Record Number of Black Friday Shoppers May Not Save Nov Sales Figures

Despite improved traffic, the much-touted Black Friday weekend sales didn’t look like it would salvage November same-store sales for retailers, analysts said.

Ahead of retailers reporting same-store sales results for the month on Thursday, analysts over the weekend cut their November estimates to a 2.9% sales gain from a 3.1% increase last week, according Retail Metrics. The month’s tallies were already under pressure with superstorm Sandy expected to cut sales by as much as 2 percentage points and the U.S. presidential election also distracting shoppers early in the month, Retail Metrics data showed.

“Black Friday may not be enough to save November,” Deustche Bank analyst Charles Grom said, adding his team made 400 calls to Wal-Mart Stores Inc.  and Target Corp stores and surveyed more than 1,000 shoppers, besides store visits. “We walked away uninspired by this weekend’s sales results relative to prior years. While most stores were very crowded on Thanksgiving night/early Black Friday morning, it’s clear that sales volume is getting shifted with the pie not necessarily growing.”

Grom’s research showed that Black Friday weekend sales were flat versus last year, with Wal-Mart, Kohl’s and Macy’s the early winners while Target and J.C. Penney Co. were “a bit disappointing.” Read related blog on Black Friday frenzy.

Mall traffic tracker ShopperTrak also said Black Friday proved to be a retail mixed bag. While foot traffic rose 3.5% on Black Friday to 307.7 million store visits, retail sales actually declined 1.8% on Friday with some spending shifted to Thursday. The firm still expects Black Friday to be the season’s biggest traffic and sales day with eight of the top 10 shopping days not arriving until December.

Retailers on Monday unleashed their so-called Cyber Monday sales in hope shoppers returning to work after the weekend will give them more sales boost. Read related Cyber Monday story.

National Retail Federation’s data from the weekend was more upbeat, showing traffic from Thursday through Sunday rose to 247 million from 226 million last year and the spending for the weekend up 14% to $59.1 billion. NRF data also showed average holiday shopper spending climbed 6.3% to $423 this weekend.

“The question now becomes, can retailers build on this sales momentum or were sales pulled forward and a significant lull looms with almost a full month to go before Christmas,” said Ken Perkins of Retail Metrics. “We fear a sizable lull once Cyber Monday passes.”

The S&P Retail Index fell on Monday after five straight trading session gains.

“The dynamics of Black Friday weekend are changing,” said Janney Capital Markets analyst David Strasser. “It is becoming less profitable. The Thanksgiving day openings increase (expense) dollars with at best modest (sales) benefits as total sales get spread over a longer time period of time. Consumers (were) making planned purchases/door busters, and not buying/delaying higher margin impulse attachments/purchase.”

While Black Friday doesn’t a season make, it does give an early read on which retailers have been more successful attracting shoppers and likely staying at top of mind with consumers, analysts said.

Via – MarketWatch

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